They were very fond of music, but it was too much trouble to learn the piano or the violin; and as for dancing, that would have been too great an exertion. So they sat on ant-hills all day long, and played on the Jews’ harp; and, if the ants bit them, why they just got up and went to the next ant-hill, till they were bitten there likewise.
And they sat under the flapdoodle-trees, and let the flapdoodle drop into their mouths; and under the vines, and squeezed the grape-juice down their throats; and, if any little pigs ran about ready roasted, crying, “Come and eat me,” as was their fashion in that country, they waited till the pigs ran against their mouths, and then took a bite, and were content, just as so many oysters would have been.
They needed no weapons, for no enemies ever came near their land; and no tools, for everything was readymade to their hand; and the stern old fairy Necessity never came near them to hunt them up, and make them use their wits, or die.
And so on, and so on, and so on, till there were never such comfortable, easy-going, happy-go-lucky people in the world.
“Well, that is a jolly life,” said Tom.
“You think so?” said the fairy. “Do you see that great peaked mountain there behind,” said the fairy, “with smoke coming out of its top?”
“And do you see all those ashes, and slag, and cinders lying about?”
“Then turn over the next five hundred years, and you will see what happens next.”
And behold the mountain had blown up like a barrel of gunpowder, and then boiled over like a kettle; whereby one-third of the Doasyoulikes were blown into the air, and another third were smothered in ashes; so that there was only one-third left.
“You see,” said the fairy, “what comes of living on a burning mountain.”
“Oh, why did you not warn them?” said little Ellie.
“I did warn them all that I could. I let the smoke come out of the mountain; and wherever there is smoke there is fire. And I laid the ashes and cinders all about; and wherever there are cinders, cinders may be again. But they did not like to face facts, my dears, as very few people do; and so they invented a cock-and-bull story, which, I am sure, I never told them, that the smoke was the breath of a giant, whom some gods or other had buried under the mountain; and that the cinders were what the dwarfs roasted the little pigs whole with; and other nonsense of that kind. And, when folks are in that humour, I cannot teach them, save by the good old birch-rod.”
And then she turned over the next five hundred years: and there were the remnant of the Doasyoulikes, doing as they liked, as before. They were too lazy to move away from the mountain;